When it comes to money, there are things you just can’t control. So, why not control the things that you can — like how much money goes into savings?
Look at your college savings account. Is your initial deposit flying solo? Are contributions few and far between? Has the contribution amount remained unchanged? If you feel like your savings are stuck in a holding pattern, it’s probably time to do something about it. Luckily, you don’t have to do anything extraordinary to save more for college.
When opportunity knocks
When life changes, expenses change too. Sometimes it’s a big change, like welcoming a new baby, and sometimes it’s smaller, like trading in a small sedan for an SUV. Other times, instead of spending more on something, we get a little in return. And aren’t those the best times?
Make a list with two columns labeled “soon” and “later.” Under each column, list the things you regularly pay for that will be going away. With kids that could include:
- Day care/nanny
- After-school care
- Summer camp
In the United States, day care alone averages $8,355 a year per child — and depending on where you live in the country, that number can more than double. Once your child enters grade school, especially if it’s public school, consider dedicating all or part of that money to college savings. You’re not finding a new source of money. You’re redirecting an old expense.
Family might have birthdays and holidays down to a science, but why not give them more gift ideas for your kids?
Family, festivities and 529 gifting
It’s true what they say — some people love to give more than they receive. And those people are normally called grandma and grandpa. Family might have birthdays and holidays down to a science, but why not give them more gift ideas for your kids?
Making contributions to a child’s 529 account is a great way to say: 1) I love the kids in my family, and 2) I want to help ease saving for their parents. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, even older cousins — so many people are ready to pitch in.
Most 529s have ways to set up gifting on accounts to share with family and friends. But don’t limit yourself to birthdays or holidays. There are many occasions that call for 529 gifts. And here are a few ideas:
- Moving up a grade starting in pre-K
- Acing a test or school project
- Advancing reading levels
- Making honor roll
- Marking the first and last day of school
- Celebrating the 100th day of school
- Losing a tooth
- Graduating from training wheels to a big kid bike
- Staying home alone for the first time without a sitter
- Babysitting a sibling for the first time without a parent
- Getting a learner’s permit
Saving for college means getting behind the wheel. No one else will be as invested as you. Save for college as much and as often as possible. That’s the only way to see your savings grow!